Friday, April 29, 2005

Cheers to Matador Records and Stephen Malkmus



In their latest newsletter, Matador Records lashed out at Paste Magazine for refusing to run the Stephen Malkmus ad featured on the left:

"[W]e'd like to offer a shout-out (ie. "fuck you") to the cowards and thought-cops at the Ad Dept at Paste Magazine who have deemed our proposed advertisement for 'Face The Truth' to be beyond the bounds of "good taste." God forbid that anything might challenge the sensibilities of Paste's Yep Roc-loving, Starbucks-guzzling, Wes Anderson-worshipping readership. Seriously, if there's anything we or SM have done that is a poor fit with Paste's Ad Dept's narrow worldview, that is the highest compliment we've been paid since the last time Spin refused to run one of our ads."


My love for Matador and Malkmus just grew exponentially. *Swoon* Seriously though, isn't just about anything Christina Aguilera does more offensive than what you see to your left?

Velvet Revolver Joins Ozzfest 2005 Mainstage For Final Seven Shows

OZZFEST, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with a 26-city itinerary running from July 15 in Boston to September 4 in West Palm Beach, has already announced a mighty lineup: the mainstage will feature Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Mudvayne, Shadows Fall and Black Label Society and the second stage will host headliner Rob Zombie, Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying, Mastodon, The Haunted, In Flames, Arch Enemy, The Black Dahlia Murder, Bury Your Dead, Soilwork, Trivium, It Dies Today, A Dozen Furies and more.

And now it welcomes the explosive Velvet Revolver. One of rock's most successful and acclaimed groups--featuring Scott Weiland (lead vocals), Slash (guitar), Duff McKagan (bass), Matt Sorum (drums) and Dave Kushner (guitar)--will take over Iron Maiden's mainstage slot for the festival's last seven dates: August 23, 25, 27, 28, 31 and September 2 and 4.

Velvet Revolver--now embarked on their North American "Electric Wonderland Show" arena tour--stormed onto the music scene last year when their Contraband album debuted at #1 on the Billboard album chart, selling over 250,000 copies in the first week and marking the best-ever debut for a new rock artist in the SoundScan era. Contraband has since sold more than three million copies worldwide and produced the Grammy Award-winning #1 rock single "Slither," as well as the band's other #1 rock hit "Fall To Pieces," plus their blazing new single "Dirty Little Thing." Rolling Stone calls the album "modern-rock nirvana...vicious, unapologetic...," while Newsweek describes the band as "truly explosive" and Maxim says "...[Velvet Revolver] bring unpredictability back to rock."

Originally launched in 1996 as a limited two-city trek, OZZFEST has become a virtual breeding ground for up-and-coming bands. The festival has been instrumental in catapulting the careers of platinum-selling artists like System of a Down, Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, Incubus, Slipknot, Disturbed, Godsmack and Chevelle.

OZZFEST 2005 tour dates ("*" indicates shows with Velvet Revolver):

DATE CITY/STATE VENUE
Fri 7/15 Boston, MA Tweeter Center
Sun 7/17 Hartford, CT Meadows
Tue 7/19 Camden, NJ Tweeter Waterfront
Thu 7/21 Buffalo, NY Darien Lakes
Sat 7/23 Pittsburgh, PA Post Gazette
Sun 7/24 Washington, DC Nissan Pavilion
Tue 7/26 New York, NY PNC
Sat 7/30 Chicago, IL Tweeter Center
Sun 7/31 Indianapolis, IN Verizon Wireless Music Center
Tue 8/2 Columbus, OH Germain Amphitheatre
Thu 8/4 Detroit, MI DTE Energy Music Theatre
Sat 8/6 East Troy, WI Alpine Valley
Sun 8/7 Minneapolis, MN Floatrite Park
Thu 8/11 Seattle, WA White River
Sat 8/13 San Francisco, CA Shoreline Amphitheatre
Sun 8/14 Sacramento, CA Sleep Train
Tue 8/16 Salt Lake City, UT USANA Pavilion
Thu 8/18 Phoenix, AZ Cricket
Sat 8/20 Los Angeles, CA Hyundai Pavilion at Glen Helen
* Tue 8/23 Albuquerque, NM Journal Pavilion
* Thu 8/25 Dallas, TX Smirnoff
* Sat 8/27 Houston, TX Cynthia J. Woods Pavilion
* Sun 8/28 San Antonio, TX Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
* Wed 8/31 Nashville, TN Starwood Amphitheatre
* Fri 9/2 Charlotte, NC Verizon
* Sun 9/4 West Palm Beach Sound Advice

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Britney Spears and Radiohead

The headline makes you shudder, doesn't it? Atease and several blogs are having fun with the fact that Britney recently purchased Radiohead's debut release Pablo Honey. The real story is in the picture below, as it prompts so many questions. Who do you think is more embarrassed - Radiohead or Britney? Will Thom Yorke implode when he sees proof that the pop princess is a fan? Did she buy the CD because there is a baby on the front and thought it might be good listening for her baby? Will Britney cover "Creep"? See more of the photomontage here.

MTV Expands in China

MTV Networks Vice Chairman Bill Roedy announced several new developments for its businesses in China, including a strategic partnership for digital music content with the world's 2nd largest mobile player, China Mobile.

"Launching an MTV-branded service with China's leading mobile company and premiering the first content produced through our HAHA Nick joint venture with SMG are strategically significant developments for MTV's and Nickelodeon's positions in China," commented Roedy. "China has the creative talent to become one of the world's leading animation hubs, and HAHA Nick is tapping into the local industry to produce high quality programming that can be showcased in China and around the world."

In a press conference in Beijing, Roedy and China Mobile Deputy CEO Lu Xiangdong announced that MTV Music Zone, a subscription-based music service, would launch on 1st May as part of China Mobile's Monternet service's new music platform MO Music Channel. China Mobile's more than 200 million subscribers will be able to access MTV-produced music charts and entertainment news, as well as download music ringtones and ringback tones. MTV will also be Monternet's exclusive promotional partner for its new Ringback Tone Chart through both MTV's 24-hour channel in Guangdong and its syndicated programming, which reaches 138 million TV households across China. In addition, MTV will create two new awards for its 7th annual Mandarin Music Honors (MMH) awards show in June – Best Wireless Artist and Best Wireless Song. The MMH show, a co-production with Chinese Central Television (CCTV), is China's premiere annual music awards event.

MTV Networks Asia Pacific President Frank Brown added: "A strong digital proposition is critical to MTV's growth in China, given the integral role of mobile phones in young people's lives. Through our strategic alliance with China Mobile, we look forward to exploring how we can work together to bring innovative music and entertainment experiences to more than 200 million mobile users across China."

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Universal Music Group Sued for Racketeering

In the latest episode of behemoth record companies gone wild, Universal Music Group has allegedly strong-armed radio promoters into creating false invoices in order to recoup phantom promotional costs from their artists. The landscape they inhabit is already sketchy, as they use the radio promoters to get around a Federal law prohibiting radio stations from taking money to play certain songs. The record companies pay the radio promoters each time one of their songs is played and the radio promoters, in turn, pay the radio stations thousands of dollars for advance play lists. These payments are believed by most with a brain to be wildly disproportionate to the actual value of the play lists. The radio promoters are essentially strawmen in this scenario that ensures commercial radio will never play anything you actually want to hear.

Two of UMG’s long-standing radio promoters are now suing the company for $100 million for allegedly forcing them to create false invoices used to squeeze more money out of their artists. Under the typical major label contract, the artist receives no royalties for a release until the label recoups marketing, promotions and recording costs. This is why you hear stories of artists owing their labels money even though their release was successful. Under this alleged scheme with the radio promoters, UMG would use the false invoices to inflate their promotions costs and thus reduce the amount of royalties paid to their artists. When these two radio promoters refused to go along with the scam, UMG allegedly fired them and told the radio stations not to work with them ever again.

To put a face on the megalomaniacal UMG, their labels include: Geffen, Interscope, Lost Highway, Island Def Jam and Motown. Their artists include: Elvis Costello, PJ Harvey, Sonic Youth, Nelly and Queens of the Stone Age. How long before Josh Homme rolls up into Interscope with a baseball bat? I'll be betting on Mr. Homme when that happens.

Artists to Watch: Milka

by Lori Kozlowski

Affectionately named after their fiery frontwoman, Milka puts on a show that makes you want to move. The energy from Milka herself is a harder-edged Gwen Stefani circa 1994, Shakira, and Metallica’s James Hetfield in one little package. She can scream, she can harmonize, and she can shake her hips.

On April 20, the band played L.A.'s Whisky a Go Go, showing off musical talent in songs like: "Addicted 2U" and "El Nino" from their two CDs — The Risk, and Fire in the Sky. Citing influences from The Melvins to Metallica, their sound is hard rock, acoustic electric guitars, and a deep drum base that keeps everything in line. Underneath it all there is also some layer of the erotic - synchronizing her arms with syncopated beats, Milka dances enough for the entire band. The depth of her voice ranges from guttural to haunting.

Hailing from Orlando, Florida, Milka openly asks the crowd if they can speak Spanish, jokes about her hair, and converses with her bandmates mid-set.

Energy-filled and edgy, they will be playing California venues through the end of April. You can find more tour dates and sample songs at www.milkarocks.com.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Kate Moss to Join Babyshambles?

Up to now we've held off on reporting the antics of Pete Doherty and his relationship with Kate Moss. While theirs is a glorious train wreck to watch, we like to leave the tabloid headlines to the NME and stick to the music. Only now their love has spilled into our territory. Reports indicate that Kate will be on the next Babyshambles album and appear with the band at the Glastonbury Festival in June.


From Gigwise:

Warner Brothers reports that as well as being Moss’ musical mentor the troubled Babyshambles frontman has written a song especially for the supermodel to sing.

A ‘close friend’ said: “Pete’s become Kate’s music teacher and she’s become her muse."

“He’s started teaching her guitar and she’s got the hang of a few chords."

“He’s written a song for her to sing. He loves her so much that
he’s even hoping to get the song on the band’s next album.”

It’s also thought that Moss may join Babyshambles on stage at this years Glastonbury festival.

The Mess Around

The Messies, April 20, 2005, Whisky a Go-Go, Los Angeles
by Lori Kozlowski

Back in 1966, Jim Morrison and his band emerged as legends at a little club on Sunset Boulevard. Like The Doors — who played the Whisky a Go-Go in the sexy 60s, The Messies put on a show that made people dance.

On a Wednesday night, The Messies — a fabulous fivesome who assembled themselves in 2003—played with vigor, saying hello to the Whisky as if the club itself were an old friend, a demi-god, or someone to impress.

The Whisky—a vintage L.A. establishment that is a low-lit, one room dance hall. There is a mirrorball turning overhead and sign next to the stage that reads: If you stage dive, you go home.

There is little room for error in the Whisky. The venue is up close and personal. Fans can see your face, specifically what you’re wearing, and even if you scowl or sneeze. There was no need for The Messies to fear. They lit up the room when they played "Super Sexy," a song that is currently getting radio air time. Fans sang along and the energy made people who were previously sitting upstairs get out of their chairs.


Photo by: Shani Belisle

Often compared to artists such as Blink 182 and Simple Plan, The Messies have a quirky, youthful feel and catchy songs that attract people of all ages. Their songs make you want to sing along leaving the chorus in your head for days.

The band is comprised of Kelly Kidd on lead vocals, Thomas Gallmeier on drums, Shane Jordan on bass, and Russell Crane and Borja Guevara both on guitar.

The 11 songs on their CD Behind Every Scream include themes of longing, monstrous relationships, making anything possible, and living life like you mean it. There is a mix of real heart and the off-beat.

As Kidd finally belts out words to "Super Sexy" he rips off a long-sleeved, buttoned-down, black collared shirt. Underneath is a tee-shirt of Pope John Paul II. It reads: The People's Pope. This singer has heart, he is dancing, he is doing a modified bees-knees and then finishing his song with a bow.

The band is not only entertaining to hear, but also to watch. They seem to love what they do. By the fourth song they played "Better Off Dead," which is from their yet-to-be-released CD that is due out this June, Kidd achieves a sweet harmony with bassist Jordan as they sing the memorable tune.

The Messies are racking up tally marks of proof that they are talented. Thanks to MTV, The Messies will be featured on the Laguna Beach DVD, due out in late spring. In addition, Virgin Megastore in Hollywood chose The Messies as one of ten unsigned bands to be carried in their store. And Shape Magazine chose recently selected The Messies song "Anything Is Possible" as part of their suggested workout songs that rock.

Their list of talents matches the performance that the blossoming band gave at the Whisky. In '66, of course, after Jim Morrison screamed out then-controversial lyrics to the song "The End," as legend has it, the band was fired from the club. Unlike The Doors, The Messies were not ousted from the Whisky, in fact, after the show they hugged fans and more than likely they celebrated becoming part of the fabric that makes up L.A.'s rock and roll history.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Beck: Guero

by Morgan Clendaniel

Beck, Guero
Two Stars

There is no question that Beck has consistently been one of the most innovative musicians of the past decade or so. Innovation has become entrenched as an integral part of Beck’s musical persona. So, while his new album, Guero, seems to try to combine various aspects of each of his previous reinventions, it seems distinctly un-Beck like. Instead of moving forward, Beck is standing pat, gathering his various incarnations into one semi-cohesive unit. While this sometimes makes for interesting and exciting music, it more often makes for confusion.

Of course, this is Beck we’re talking about; as the creator behind some of the most exciting and beloved music of the past ten or fifteen years, he has to be treated with a modicum of respect. And for the most part, Beck does little to lose this respect. However, he does the unexpected, and instead of furthering his breadth of musical accomplishments he gives us new versions of things we’ve heard before. What results in an album that features mostly songs that you could hear more exciting versions of on other Beck albums, plus a few songs worth of true brilliance and, sadly, a few moments of musical disaster.

Re-united with the Dust Brothers, producers of Odelay, most of the songs feature the neo-hip hop production pastiche that brought Beck to national attention in the mid-90s. When this production is brought to the forefront, the songs suffer. “Hell Yes” combines the white b-boy lyrical schematic of Odelay with the off-kilter funk vibe of Midnight Vultures, with almost unlistenable results. The chirping sampled voices and porn soundtrack beat sound like a track that was thankfully left off Odelay. “Hell Yes” almost sounds as if it’s some sort of satirical “Beck” song that a comedy writer came up with. And that doesn’t even begin to cover “Que Onda Guero,” a sort of bilingual “Sweater Song” that unravels right about as Beck raps the opening couplet: “Here comes the vegetable man / in the vegetable van.”

Most of the songs on Guero feature sounds that will sound oddly familiar to even not-very-devoted Beck fan. Take for example “Farewell Ride.” Notice the bluesy lyrical form and guitar riff, straight from “One Foot in the Grave.” The lethargic, semi-sanctimoniously dour lyrics? Sounds like “Sea Change.” There’s a general “Mutations” vibe in there, too. Or, “Scarecrow,” which cuts directly from “Mutations”-esque folksy verses to an “Odelay” inspired chorus, complete with distorted vocals. It’s like Beck recorded an album of Beck and mashed it up with Beck. It’s probably a little unfair to describe every song on Guero as a combination of styles and ideas explored in Beck’s previous albums. What artist’s music doesn’t reflect the ground he or she has already covered? But what is bothersome is the lack of anything new. There are few moments when a song presents anything that sounds like something we haven’t heard from Beck before.

These few moments come when Beck adds a pop sensibility that seems new and fresh. The third track, “Girl,” is an excellent three minute pop song. It’s pretty standard, but Beck puts a fresh spin on it, and it sounds like nothing much else in his back catalog, making it stand out in more ways than one. “Rental Car” features an exciting “la la la” sample that wouldn’t sound out of place on, say, whatever piece of pseudo-dance craziness that Gwen Stefani is currently thinking up. “Earthquake Weather” and “Emergency Exit” round out the short list of songs that actually manage to grab the listener’s attention.

The remaining nine songs on the album vary in levels of excitement and in obvious backsliding toward previous Beck work. It’s hard to find much to say about them, because they’re almost too bland to generate any comment. They might be nice to have on in the background at a dinner party, or something. What might make Guero more appealing is if you look at it as a Beck greatest hits album. But instead of putting his actual hits on it, he just created a conglomerate of various Beck songs so as to fit the disparate styles comfortably on one album.

For a musician, not re-inventing your entire musical style with every new album shouldn’t really be a strike against you. Most just find something that works and stick with it. But when you’ve made your career by doing something shocking and innovative with every new release, the expectations are higher. Maybe it’s the new marriage, maybe it’s the Scientology, who knows? But something kept Guero from doing what every Beck album has done. Maybe it’s just Beck gathering his forces before dropping another bomb of innovation sometime in the future, and in ten years Guero will be considered an important step in his oeuvre. Let’s all hope.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Lyric: Augustana "Boston"

in the light of the sun, is there anyone? oh it has begun...
oh dear you look so lost, eyes are red and tears are shed,
this world you must've crossed...you said...

you don't know me, you don't even care,
you don't know me, you don't wear my chains...

essential and appealed, carry all your thoughts across
an open field,
when flowers gaze at you...they're not the only ones who cry
when they see you
you said...

you don't know me, you don't even care,
you don't know me, you don't wear my chains...

she said I think I'll go to Boston...
I think I'll start a new life,
I think I'll start it over, where no one knows my name,
I'll get out of California, I'm tired of the weather,
I think I'll get a lover and fly em out to Spain...
I think I'll go to Boston,
I think that I'm just tired
I think I need a new town, to leave this all behind...
I think I need a sunrise, I'm tired of the sunset,
I hear it's nice in the Summer, some snow would be nice...
Boston...where no one knows my name...

video viewing options for "Boston":

VidFull.mov

VidFull.ram

56.asx

100.asx

300.asx

The Black Crowes, Widespread Panic, The Neville Brothers to Offer Live Recordings At Jazz Fest

MunckMix, the official recording licensee of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival's "Jazz Fest Live" recording series announced the roster of artists participating in the 2005 Jazz Fest Live offering. The artists include The Black Crowes, The Original Meters Reunion, Widespread Panic, and New Orleans music icons The Neville Brothers.

New this year is the ability for fans to purchase the recordings anytime during the festival directly from the Jazz Fest Live booth on the fairgrounds. The recordings will be mixed and mastered by MunckMix engineers within hours of each performance, and CDs are then manufactured on site and available for pickup the following day. In addition to on-site delivery, every recording, including dozens of recordings from last year's festival, is also available for shipment at www.jazzfestlive.com.

"This year we're very excited to offer festival goers the opportunity to buy CDs from a show they attended - or missed - directly at the festival in our Jazz Fest Live booth," said MunckMix founder Peer Munck.

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, known worldwide as Jazz Fest, is one of America's biggest and best cultural celebrations. With thousands of musicians performing on 12 stages, Jazz Fest offers an unparalleled array of jazz, blues, R & B, rock, funk, Cajun, Zydeco, gospel and much more. The 36th annual event is set for April 22 – May 1, 2005. Complete information on the Festival is available at www.nojazzfest.com.

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, Inc., a non-profit institution, is the presenter of the Festival. The Foundation uses proceeds from the Festival to develop and support special projects designed to preserve and promote the area's rich music and cultural heritage. For information on the Foundation and its programs, visit www.nojhf.org.

Movie downloaders beware

Following its initial filing of John Doe lawsuits against individuals engaged in illegal Internet file-swapping, Motion Picture Association President and CEO Dan Glickman announced that the first round of defendants will be named and served Wednesday.

"These people are Internet thieves and we will not stand by while they steal millions of dollars of copyrighted material with no regard for the law," said Glickman. "With these lawsuits, which reach from Honolulu, Hawaii to Kokomo, Indiana our message to these thieves is clear – you are not anonymous and you will be held responsible: You can click but you cannot hide."

Additionally, the MPAA announced several lawsuits against John Does accused of Internet theft on college campuses which is an emerging problem due to the availability of advanced shared networks like Internet 2 (i2hub).

"Digital file sharing is the way of the future and we want to help educate students about the legal ways to get our products on-line through services like Ruckus and Cdigix, CinemaNow and Movielink."

Last November, the MPAA announced that in conjunction with its members and other film studios, it was expanding its campaign against film piracy. The major movie studios filed lawsuits against individuals as end-users who have illegally downloaded or traded movies via the Internet. Since then, a number of those individuals have been contacted and asked to settle with the member companies. Those who chose not to settle are now being named in individual lawsuits filed around the country.

The lawsuits and public identification of individual people illegally downloading and trading movies on-line signal a dramatic escalation in the motion picture industry's campaign to fight film piracy and raise awareness about the damaging phenomenon of illegal file-swapping.

A federal interagency report published in 2004, estimated that counterfeit and pirated goods, including those of copyrighted works, cost the American economy $250 billion a year.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Artists to Watch Update

Three of our past artists to watch are on the road, so be sure to check them out.

Monopoli

April 19: Crooked Beat In-Store, Washington, DC
April 21: CBGB, New York, Ny
April 22: Cafe Sine, New York, NY

Justin Jones

April 19: Arlene's Grocery, New York, NY
April 20: Warehouse Theater, Washington, DC

The Valley

April 21: Samurai Duck, Eugene, OR
April 23: Thee Parkside, San Francisco, CA
April 24: The Knitting Factory, Los Angeles, CA

Monday, April 18, 2005

Bloc Party Wrap Up Round of US Dates at DC's Black Cat

Something irrational happens when a good band only you seemed to know about becomes the band du jour; they lose their appeal. It's not that you've outgrown them, but more likely that you are weary of what the hype will do to them. You fear that today's OC- bred hipster will over consume and then move on to the next thing and the band will waste away trying to recapture their attention.

So I entered the Black Cat on April 9 seeking some proof that Bloc Party has a staying power much greater than their hype. Sure enough, at the Black Cat I was greeted by an army of pre-pubescent, image-conscious young hipsters desperate to jump on the bandwagon of today's It band. They were a uniform and faceless mass of ringer tees, piercings, bed head and unchecked volatility.

As the surprisingly competent and fun opening band, The Ponys, warmed up the crowd I could already hear high-pitched squeals of "he's soooooo cuuuuuute." Ugh. These people can have The Killers and the bevy of other definite article bands - why can't they leave me the one band who fulfills my occasional longing for new British post-punk without making me feel as if I have to clean myself off from all of the regurgitation?

Anyway, Bloc Party came out calm, relaxed and as unassuming as I've ever seen a headliner. There were no scowls, no stances and no sneers. This was a band with a lot to prove, but they weren't taking themselves seriously. I mean come on, they had a freaking yellow Care Bear on stage with them.

On their eponymous EP and newly-released Silent Alarm, Bloc Party's sound is clean. The guitars pop in and out and tear off on riffs unexpectedly, but the lines and bridges are all well formed. Because of that, I expected a disciplined, if not sterile, performance of their recordings. Instead they breathed new life into the songs: guitars were muddier, the rhythm section was more prominent, and Kele Okereke's voice seemed even more emotional and free as it danced on top of Gordon Moakes' ominous background vocals. While upbeat and jovial, they slashed through their limited catalog as if the lyrics of "Luno" were their gigging mantra, "[t]here will be no hesitation, there will be no bullshit."

The singles "Banquet" and "Like Eating Glass" were the predictable crowd pleasers in their disappointingly short, but consistently tight and charismatic set. This band isn't nearly as important as the hype which threatens to transcend them, but they have the substance and potential to persevere long after the hipsters have moved on to the next flavor of the week.

The band is touring in Europe now. If you missed them in the States, look out for more dates beginning in late May.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Caitlin Cary & Thad Cockrell duet cd due in June

RALEIGH, N.C. – Caitlin Cary is known for her work with Whiskeytown and Tres Chicas as well as two notable solo albums. Thad Cockrell is the singer/songwriter who "put the hurt back into country." Together, they enned "Please Break My Heart" for Cary's most recent solo effort, the acclaimed "I'm Staying Out."

On June 14, they will issue a duet album titled Begonias (Yep Roc Records), which will expand on their storied chemistry as a singing and songwriting team. The album was recorded in Nashville and produced by Brad Jones (Josh Rouse, Jill Sobule, Butterfly Boucher).

"We'd actually planned to make this album a long time ago," says Cockrell. "It was sometime between Caitlin's first EP Waltzie and her album While You Weren't Looking. We’d write together on Sunday afternoons. It was merely a matter of fitting in with each other’s schedules."

According to Cary, the album has one footprint in the duo's songwriting past and another in the present. "Half the material is older and very familiar," she says. "The other half was written in three weeks in the studio, so half the songs are old friends, and the other half are pure spontaneous combustion."

Getting out of Raleigh provided not only a needed change of scenery for the two, but a different method of recording. The guitarist on the CD, Pat Buchanan, had just come from sessions for the new Kenny Chesney record, and he, along with pedal steel virtuoso Pete Finney, were thrilled to be cutting "real country songs in real time." The entire cast was excited about recording the album live. "My favorite records were made this way but it's been a long time since I've gotten to record this way," said Finney.

Cockrell, in fact, took the opportunity to relocate to Nashville just prior to the sessions, bringing him closer to the music of his inspiration.

Begonias has several standout tracks, but the one that is bound to cause the most instantaneous recognition is "Please Break My Heart." Says Cary, "It was thrilling to play it so differently than on my solo record. On my record, it was very simple. Here, as a duet, it's the way that Ray Charles and Betty Carter might have recorded it: plainly spoken, but with a lot of stylistic details that come straight out of the early '60s." The album title comes from the lyrics to "Conversations About a Friend," a story song told from different points of view. Another track of note is "Two Different Things," which was actually written during a pilot for a public radio program in which host Cockrell composes a song in the course of a conversation with a guest artist. In this case, the guest artist was Cary. Begonias also includes two covers: "Warm & Tender Love," originally sung by Percy Sledge, and "Waiting on June," which was written with the duo in mind by their friend Skip Matheny, of Roman Candle).

The duo did four shows at this years SXSW festival in Austin and will tour the U.S. during the summer months.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Queen Joined By Paul Rodgers, Formerly Of Free And Bad Company, For 32-Dates in Europe

Queen guitarist/vocalist Brian May said: "It really all came about because of the Fender 50th Anniversary gig that I did with Paul Rodgers [last September]. We were both so amazed at the chemistry that was going on in 'All Right Now' that suddenly it seemed blindingly obvious that there was 'something happening here.'"

A few weeks later, May, Queen drummer/vocalist Roger Taylor and Rodgers played together in public for the first time, bringing the house to its feet at the televised UK Hall of Fame Awards in London with blistering versions of "We Will Rock You," "We Are The Champions," and the finale, "All Right Now."

Rodgers noted: "Powerful and real; explosive and dynamic! That's how it felt when Queen and I played together in London. With the chill factor off the scale...the unanimous feeling was 'let's do more.' We intend to merge our styles and our music at the point where they meet most naturally. Soulful rock with raw emotion."

Taylor said: "Paul is not someone trying to be Freddie [Mercury, who died in 1991]. He's one of the people who have influenced all the singers who are out there at the moment and Freddie was a great fan of his. I always hoped we would tour again and I'm thrilled we're doing it. It feels good and it smells good, and I know we're doing it with the right singer for the right reasons."

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Pixies Announce Summer Tour Dates
















The Pixies are on the road again this summer with a tour featuring two shows on the same night in Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The tour kicks off in Portland with two doubleheaders on May 26 and 27. According to Pixies manager, Marc Geiger, the doubleheaders will go down like this: "the first show would be a set of rare songs and B-sides, and the second would be the hits."

The Pixies will also participate in the Sasquatch! Festival in George, Washington on May 28 and the inaugural CMJ Rock Hall Music Fest in Cleveland on June 8. Late August will find the Pixies on a small string European dates.

US dates as of today:

May 26-27: Portland, Ore. (Roseland Theatre; two shows both nights)
May 28: George, Wash. (Sasquatch! Festival)
May 30: San Francisco (Warfield Theatre; two shows)
June 2: Los Angeles (Wiltern Theatre; two shows)
June 5: Morrison, Col. (Red Rocks)
June 8: Cleveland (CMJ Rock Hall Music Fest; early show)
June 8: Cleveland (Scene Pavilion; late show)
June 11: Atlanta (Music Midtown Festival)
June 13: Columbia, Md. (Merriweather Post Pavilion)
June 14: Wantagh, N.Y. (Jones Beach)

RIAA targets college students

[fom RIAA.org]
WASHINGTON, DC -- In response to an emerging epidemic of music theft on a specialized, high-speed university computer network known as Internet2, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), on behalf of the major record companies, will file tomorrow copyright infringement lawsuits against 405 students at 18 different colleges across the country.

Internet2 is an advanced network created by participating colleges and universities for important academic research. Through the use of a file-sharing application known as “i2hub,” however, Internet2 is increasingly becoming the network of choice for students seeking to steal copyrighted songs and other works on a massive scale. Downloading from i2hub via Internet2 is extremely fast -- in most cases, less than five minutes for a movie or less than 20 seconds for a song. Students find i2hub especially appealing because they mistakenly believe their illegal file-sharing activities can’t be detected in the closed environment of the Internet2 network.

“This next generation of the Internet is an extraordinarily exciting tool for researchers, technologists and many others with valuable legitimate uses,” said Cary Sherman, President, RIAA. “Yet, we cannot let this high-speed network become a zone of lawlessness where the normal rules don’t apply. We have worked very constructively with the university community, improving educational efforts at colleges across the country, expanding partnerships between schools and legal online services and providing a clearinghouse for expertise on technological anti-piracy solutions. We cannot let rampant illegal downloading on Internet2 jeopardize this collaborative work. By taking this initial action, we are putting students and administrators everywhere on notice that there are consequences for unlawful uses of this special network.”

In addition to the 18 campuses whose students are being sued, the RIAA has evidence of i2hub infringement at another 140 schools in 41 states. While these schools were not included in the initial round of lawsuits, letters are being sent to each university president alerting them to the illegal activity occurring on their campuses.

More than two years ago, through the Joint Committee of the Higher Education and Entertainment Communities, the RIAA and the entertainment community partnered with higher education leaders to address the issue of piracy on college campuses. Today, administrators are placing greater emphasis on teaching students about their responsibilities to respect copyrights and are making strides in strengthening and enforcing campus computer use policies on copyrighted materials. More than 40 institutions now offer legitimate on-line music delivery services to their students, and many schools are experimenting with technological means such as filtering to reduce the incidence of illegal activity.

“Without question, the Joint Committee’s efforts to respond to the issue of illegal P2P file sharing on campus networks continue to yield significant dividends,” Sherman said. “In order to maintain the gains we’ve made, we must move quickly to address this new threat emerging from i2hub and similar applications. We know that it’s very difficult for these legal services to gain real traction on college campuses when pirate services with lightning fast downloads are easily available to students with no seeming likelihood of detection or threat of consequences.”

The RIAA, in letters sent today, is asking university presidents to take action to stop illegal file sharing related to not only i2hub but also other university networks like the centralized piracy servers often set up by students on the college’s local area network. The letter, signed by the RIAA’s Sherman, asks university leaders to explore technical measures such as filtering and consider legitimate alternatives to offer to students.

“We think that any policymaker or campus administrator would be outraged to learn that a special, high-speed Internet technology designed for academic research has been hijacked for illegal purposes,” said Sherman. “Surely taxpayers would not want their money – through federal agency grants and R&D funding – facilitating the rampant theft of intellectual property on our college campuses.”

A total of 405 lawsuits will be filed tomorrow against students at Boston University, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Drexel University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan State University, New York University, Ohio State University, Princeton University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of California – Berkeley, University of California – San Diego, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, University of Pittsburgh and University of Southern California. Combined, the students being sued have illegally distributed more than 1.5 million total files, including more than 930,000 songs.

While evidence of infringing activity on i2hub is extensive, the RIAA has chosen to limit the number of lawsuits to 25 per school at this time. In addition, the 405 lawsuits that will be filed tomorrow are against some of the most egregious abusers of Internet2 technology. The average number of mp3 files shared by users sued in this round is more than 2,300, while the average number of total files is more than 3,900. Some users have shared as many as 13,600 mp3 files and as many as 72,700 total files (such as audio, software and video).

Monday, April 11, 2005

Drive By Truckers win Indie Acoustic Award

The Indie Acoustic Project announced the winners of its "Best CDs of 2004" Awards. The winners were selected from among the 3 finalists in each category:



Acoustic Ensemble: Clumsy Lovers After the Flood (Nettwork)
Alternative Rock: Kyler A Flower Grows in Stone (Deep South)
Americana: Acoustic Syndicate The Long Way Round (Sugar Hill)
Celtic: Grada The Landing Step (Compass)
Instrumental: Creaking Tree String Quartet Side Two (Self-Produced)
Best Lyrics: Darrell Scott Theatre of the Unheard (Full Light)
Multi-Genre: Chris Thile Deceiver (Sugar Hill)
Rock: Drive By Truckers The Dirty South (New West)
Roots: Tony Furtado These Chains (Funzalo)
Singer-Songwriter Female: Vienna Teng Warm Strangers (Virt / Deep South)
Singer-Songwriter Male: Garrin Benfield Where Joy Kills Sorrow (Zack Songs)
World Music-Europe, Asia, and the Pacific: Various South Pacific Islands (Putumayo)
World Music-Latin: Candido & Graciela Inolvidable (Chesky)

The Indie Acoustic Project is dedicated to giving recognition to outstanding works of innovative acoustic (or mainly acoustic) music.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Les Paul's 90th Birthday to Be Celebrated With New CD, Book Releases and Special Events

HOLLYWOOD, Calif., -- American guitar legend Les Paul will turn 90 years old on Thursday, June 9. To celebrate the world-renowned electric guitar innovator and performer's 90th year, Capitol/EMI Music Catalog Marketing is joining other Les Paul admirers to put on quite a celebration, including new CD releases, two new books, and a host of special events fit for the father of the electric guitar. Les Paul, who continues to perform weekly at New York's Iridium Jazz Club, is currently in the studio recording a new album of all-star collaborations with many of music's best-known artists, including Eric Clapton, Sting, Peter Frampton, Johnny Rzeznik, Jeff Beck, Joss Stone, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Joan Osborne, Richie Sambora, and many more to be announced.

The yet-to-be-titled CD is planned for release this summer by Capitol/EMI Music Catalog Marketing. On June 7, Capitol/EMM will reissue Les Paul with Mary Ford: The Best of The Capitol Masters (90th Birthday Edition), a collection of Les Paul's finest Capitol recordings, with new artwork, 3 bonus tracks and a new package essay written by Les Paul. On his birthday, Les Paul will receive the Songwriters' Hall of Fame's Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award, and on June 19, he will perform as a Spotlight Artist with special guests at New York's JVC Jazz Festival.

The recording is produced by Bob Cutarella and Fran Cathcart with Steve Zuckerman as Associate Producer.

Les Paul, born June 9, 1915 in Waukesha, Wisconsin, is not just one of the world's finest guitarists of all time, but is also a Rock & Roll Hall Of Famer, five-time Grammy Award winner, the inventor of the solid body electric guitar, and the pioneer of numerous enduring studio techniques, including multi-track recording and the use of reverb. His signature Les Paul line of Gibson guitars debuted in 1952 and quickly grew into a family of four models, the Junior, Special, Standard and Custom, all of which became Gibson classics. Gibson's Les Paul guitars, including new custom models from Jimmy Page and Joe Perry, are universally hailed as the best and are the top choice for many of the world's premier players.

Two new Les Paul books will be published in the coming months: The Les Paul Legacy by Rob Lawrence is due this summer from Hal Leonard Publishing. Les Paul In His Own Words, a limited edition autobiography with each numbered copy signed by Les Paul, is scheduled for a June 9 release by Russ Cochran Publishing.

On June 9, the evening of Les Paul's 90th birthday, he will be honored with the Songwriters' Hall Of Fame Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award. The honors will be bestowed at the organization's 2005 awards dinner at New York's Marriott Marquis Hotel. On June 19, Les Paul will perform with special guests at New York's Carnegie Hall as a Spotlight Artist of the JVC Jazz Festival.

Les Paul continues to play weekly shows at New York's Iridium Jazz Club, with 8pm and 10pm sets every Monday evening. Summer 2005 tour dates will soon be announced.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Jeff Tweedy and Lawrence Lessig Intellectual Property Discussion to be Webcast

Tonight at 7:00 pm, Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy will join Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessig in, "Who Owns Culture?" a discussion at the New York Public Library regarding the artistic, commercial and legal issues surrounding "the Internet-enabled freeing of culture." Wired Magazine contributing editor Steven Johnson will moderate.

In this discussion, Tweedy will explain why Wilco and their label, Nonesuch Records, believe sharing new and live recordings on wilcoworld.net sets the stage for a mutually beneficial relationship with their fans, which fosters creativity while preserving the band's artistic rights. Tweedy will speak for the silent majority of artists who build their careers on internet downloading and disagree with the RIAA's hard-line, major label driven stance.

Lessig has one of the most impressive legal CV's I've ever seen. Wired's Steven Levy refers to him as "the Elvis of cyberlaw," and a once "right-wing lunatic," turned "fire-breathing defender of Net values." He also has a nifty blog, which is an invaluable resource of knowledge for copyright holders.

Go to wilcoweb.com for the webcast.

Read more about tonight's event here.

Other recent Jeff Tweedy/Wilco Related news:

Wilco, Jayhawks and Soul Asylum Members to Record New Golden Smog Album

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Jello Biafra Lashes Out Over Use of Dead Kennedys Song on American Idol

Former Dead Kennedys frontman and Green Party presidential candidate, Jello Biafra, is steaming over Fox TV's use of the DK version of Viva Las Vegas on an episode of American Idol. Biafra's label, Alternative Tentacles, received several emails from fans with live footage confirming American Idol's use of the song. Like it or not, Biafra has no control over the Dead Kennedys back catalog, as he lost control of the songs in a drawn-out court battle with the other members of the band. Recently on Punkbands.com, Biafra lashed out at the licensing of the DK song to Fox TV:
Bleech! First Levi's, now this. What strain of corporate herpes will be allowed to foul Dead Kennedys next? I could understand Too Drunk to Fuck as a new O'Reilly Factor theme, but this is really nauseating. Even Police Truck's lyrics as the background music to Cops would be more fitting justice than this. What really makes me sick about shows like this and especially Extreme Makeover is how they encourage teens to grow up plastic Barbie and Ken conformists instead of solid subversive citizens.

We are now getting demos- and even DVDs- from pushy stage mothers wanting AT of all people to help make their previous Britney wannabe into an American Idol. 'Take a look, isn't she pretty? She's 14, already a cheerleader, and models, dances, plays on the basketball team, (blah blah blah...) Just wait 'til you hear her sing Redneck Woman.' Where is Tipper Gore when we need her? Or at least a new Body Count box set?
Ah, Jello, we miss you so.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Derrick Plourde Commits Suicide, (1971-2005)

Thirty-three year old Derrick Plourde a.k.a. Hideaki 'Billy' Sekiguchi, committed suicide on March 30, with a gunshot wound to the head. Plourde was the drummer of Bad Astronaut and formerly of other various So-cal punk-ish bands, including: The Ataris, Lagwagon, Guitar Wolf, and Mad Caddies. Kris Roe from The Ataris eulogized Plourde on the band's website, saying among many other things:
"Derrick, I can assure you that tonight in Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of the world there are many glasses raised in your honor, Be well and we all love you always. Make sure that when you see Keith Moon and John Bonham up there that you give them plenty of shit and make them laugh like no one else
could do... Party. P.S. It's not my birthday."
Plourde will be remembered fondly for his contribution to So-Cal punk and his irreverent sense of humor.

Jennifer Lee: Beyond the Frame

Since we're in the final stages of this year's installment of "American Idol," its easy for many people to forget that real musicians actually create their own songs and write their own music. We also forget what real musicianship and artistry sounds like. With her brilliant debut cd "Beyond the Frame," Jennifer Lee reminds us.

RocketGirls.net describes Jennifer's work as "a cross of Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, and Fiona Apple." Many women who park themselves in front of a piano draw the inevitable Tori and Fiona comparisons. Not all deserve it. However, Jennifer is right on par with both. And, by no means is her work derivative - Jennifer has a unique sound and style all her own. Her songwriting delves into highly personal matters ranging from rape to religion and captures your attention right from Frame's opening chords. The emotional outpouring continues through all the tracks with terrific piano playing and soulful singing that makes Jennifer an artist to watch in 2005 and beyond.

Jennifer is enjoying live performances at some of Southern California's hottest clubs and her song "Morphine" is garnering spins on XM Radio's "Station 52." In between shows, we managed to catch up with this budding star and get some insight into her background, songwriting and career.

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in West Virginia. Very rural. The closest neighbors were my grandparents, and they were a mile away. I miss the quietness of the country, but I have always been a city girl at heart. I'm drawn to the energy of the city, at the same time I sleep with earplugs in at night.

When did you start playing the piano?

I was drawn to the piano since I can remember. I was probably 4 when I sat down and found the notes that formed familiar songs that I knew. My grandma's house was a music mecca - they did Christian radio sermons with grandma playing the Hammond organs, piano, and singing hymns, and recorded them in their house. I started taking lessons when I was 7, and I play by ear, so it was very hard for me to learn to read. I wanted my teacher to play the song for me, then I would piece it together, and after a couple of tries, I could play it from memory. Essentially I am self-taught. It took years for me to just play like no one was watching.


When did you write your first song?

I was twelve, and I entered this talent showcase at the West Virginia State Fair. I wanted to do something special, and playing the piano was what I knew best. I had a small keyboard - so I wrote my first song called "Never Ending Road." My best friend and I sang it on stage as a duet. We practiced all summer. I have a copy of it on tape. My grandparents who had the recording ensemble, recorded it to tape back then as a present to my other grandfather to play in his truck because he had trouble staying awake on the road on his way home from the farm at night. I thought it would be neat to make him this personalized tape with me playing my keyboard. It covered everything from Beethoven's "Fur Elise" to Mozart's "Turkish March" and my first composed song with me singing the vocals. There was no overdubbing and no editing. It was a straight shot. I did pretty well. It is a nice memory. My grandfather had the tape in the cassette player in his truck when he died.

You composed all the songs and lyrics on your CD, what are your writing inspirations?

This album is very autobiographical. It is 20 years of pent up. I grew up poor, I wasn't the pretty girl, I developed breasts and pubic hair very late - which that is the time when you want your goody package to emerge. I was teased, I was the nice, naïve kid with the big heart, and I defined everyone in terms of myself, which is such a cruel thing to do to yourself - even as an adult. I was sexually assaulted at 15. I lived in Los Angeles for awhile, and experienced some very interesting people, to say the least, who affected me - some good and some bad. This album has had a lot to do with self-discovery and uncovering pieces of myself that had been locked up for years. I needed to understand what was causing me to not want to be myself. I have healed and learned so much about myself making "Beyond the Frame." I had to strip away the boundaries, get real with myself. This album reflects these changes because it was written over the course of 4 years. It does seem, however, just when you heal one wound, another comes creeping out. I am on a constant quest for wisdom and knowledge, so I know that will inspire my future albums.


What's the influence for the name "Beyond the Frame?"

"Beyond the Frame" is about stripping away boundaries; cutting through all of the bullshit - societal, cultural, traditional and self-inflicted, and taking an honest look at who you are. It is not easy to see the truth. But, as the old cliché goes, the truth shall set you free. It really does. I always say if you know anyone in this life, it had better be yourself - because in the end, when everyone else is "busy" or turns on you, or dies, you are alone, and you have to love yourself. And in order to love yourself, you have to know and respect yourself. Self-loathing doesn't cut it long term. You have to save yourself. This is what "Beyond the Frame" is about. We are all beyond what people see (our proverbial frame - our looks, our image, our superficial survival mode), some of us are just better at hiding it, and some of us never want to see it. There is always a story behind everyone that most people never get to see, and these experiences/stories are what mold us as humans. Each little moment can mold us. So, the more in tune you are with yourself, you can be very aware of what you want to take a little of, and what you should run from. Self discovery, finding your own voice, and staying true to oneself is key.

Where did you record it?

I recorded the basic instrumentation (piano, drums and bass) at Studio Litho in Seattle, WA. I have my own Protools and Gigasampler setup, so I recorded all of my vocals and string arrangements at my home studio in San Diego. Impressionist Records is my own label.

Who are your musical influences?

There are many. I grew up listening to old country, and those songs for the most part are sad and depressing - but they tap into true emotions. Even today I have such a fondness for Dolly, Tammy, Johnny, Loretta and Willie. I have always been drawn to singer/songwriters, and those artists who write about reality. But it wasn't until college, I started to discover the true musical geniuses that walked into my heart and made their mark: Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Beatles and Nirvana. The predominant female influences are Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, but there are many others in various genres. I have to say that these artists write/wrote from their hearts, and sing/sang about what is real or what moves them with such intensity and passion, regardless of what anyone might think. No boundaries. This is truly what making art is about - then we can go back to my album title "Beyond the Frame" - going beyond boundaries. They write it for themselves, and if someone else happens to enjoy it, then great. That is how I write and compose. I write what I want to hear. If a song moves me to tears or just lights me up with fire when I write it, it goes on the album. This is my ultimate litmus test. These artists have moved me to tears; they have made me think; and they have lit my fires. Great music is so powerful. It just transcends space and time.

What's in your CD player or iPod right now?

You name it. From Madonna to Opera; PJ Harvey to Vince Guaraldi and everything in between.

Any singers we might not have heard yet that you'd recommend?

Elbow. Though they are very popular in Great Britain and are becoming more so here in the US, they are a really great listen. A mellow and creative sound. A sort of Radiohead meets Coldplay - but entirely their own sound.

If you could duet with anyone (current or past) who would it be?

This is a tough one. Probably Kurt Cobain.

What's your favorite part of performing live?

Everything. I get to give myself, and in return, I get to receive this sense of fulfillment from being able to do what I love in life, and love from the people who are immersing themselves in what I am singing about each night. Even if I get through to only one person on a particular night, that is what it is all about - moving people; letting them inside you; and giving them something to walk out of the door with that night that they didn't walk in with.

Jennifer plays Genghis Cohen in Los Angeles at 8pm on April 25th.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Ray LaMontagne: Troubled Troubadour Scores Big on Debut

Trouble (RCA 2004) *****
-Jim McCoy

Highlights: The entire album

Over the past ten years, American music lovers have witnessed the unfortunate transformation of music from "art" to "product." Far beyond Eric Clapton recording a slowed-down version of J.J. Cale's After Midnight for a beer commercial or The Rolling Stones launching Windows software, bands and record labels alike are specifically seeking to use the outlets spawned by technologies old and new to create and market material for use in things such as video game soundtracks and television commercials - venues that fall far outside the traditional small club, concert arena or music festival in the park.

The flip side is a growing number of singer/songwriters who, with acoustic guitar in hand and an arsenal of approximately six chords, pen songs of hopelessness and alienation that are often so unfocused and melodramatic that there is only one obvious conclusion: the actual source of the problems that inspired these songs is likely the man with the guitar in hand himself.

The consequence of these disturbing trends is a precipitous decline in the number of new artists to which the term "authentic" can be attached to their craft. Even fewer are those who have perfected their talents to the point that the listener is sucked into the artist's own world, able to feel the very emotions that inspired the music while performing mundane tasks like traveling down a strip of asphalt highway or simply relaxing with the dog on the living room couch.

Enter Ray LaMontagne, a former Maine shoe factory worker who was moved to pick up an acoustic guitar after hearing Stephen Stills playing through his clock radio very early one morning. LaMontagne's acoustic guitar and voice- sometimes only accompanied by a string quintet and percussion- have turned the singer-songwriter's debut, Trouble (RCA), into a solid collection of memorable tunes that also possesses a rare quality not often found outside of Van Morrison's Moondance and a mere handful of other albums: not only can all of the disc's ten tracks be played straight through without skipping, but the disc-when not being enjoyed in and of itself - can also provide perfect background music for when entertaining a significant other.

While the themes in many of the songs are certainly familiar - the lyrical bent of the title track itself can be traced back to the Mississippi Delta with little effort- there are few artists in the last decade that would be capable of pulling off a lyric like "trouble been doggin' my soul since the day I was born" without it sounding recycled, corny or contrived. LaMontagne, however, manages to do so effortlessly- his soulful, genuine voice not only catches your attention from the jump, but it manages to make an ancient theme in American acoustic music sound downright fresh.

Mr. LaMontagne’s voice is no less effective throughout the remainder of the album. On Jolene, when he sings of a "cocaine flame in my bloodstream," you not only believe that LaMontagne's been there- you actually feel a bit of sympathy (or, empathy) for his 'troubled' character with booze on his hair, blood on his lip who can't "go straight" for his love. LaMontagne's claim in The Band-esque Hannah that "I'd walk one mile on broken glass to fall down at your knees," falls far outside the realm of hollow braggadocio; rather, it comes across as a most believable testament of his devotion to a long-haired woman who "comes down from the Ozark hills” carrying "a banjo, a Bible and a fine-toothed comb."

Even the more simple and oft-employed lyrics in LaMontagne's work are effective when delivered by his capable voice. Something like "I could hold you forever" in Hold You in My Arms sounds neither dusty nor cliché; rather, it is raised to the level of a wholly credible declaration of affection for a woman unseen to the listener, but obviously very real to the singer. Similarly, when LaMontagne sings that "everything I have to give, I'll give to you" in Shelter, the line carries an high level of genuine assurance that makes you forget that you've heard the same sentiment expressed with the same lyric hundreds of times before Trouble saw the light of day.

This is not to say that all of LaMontagne's lyrics are recycled or derivative; to the contrary, most are creative and have the effect of making the listener believe that they were borne of real experiences with real people encountered by Mr. LaMontagne throughout his life, which only serves to augment the air of authenticity that envelops his work. When he sings in the aforementioned Jolene "sold my coat when I hit Spokane, bought a hard pack of cigarettes in the early morning rain," his soft acoustic guitar serving to make the listener feel and smell the rain in the air, it is hard to believe that the lyric is not derived from a deeply personal experience or that of a close companion. And even if the events of the song are just pulled from the writer’s imagination, LaMontagne succeeds in making it sound real, anyway.

LaMontagne also understands the importance of dynamics and displays a far beyond rudimentary knowledge of the lost art of rhythm guitar playing. In Shelter, as LaMontagne tells his love that "all of this around us'll fall over, I'll tell you what were gonna do," he brings his acoustic down to a slowed, soft strum to perfectly compliment his scratchy yet absolutely angelic assurances. In contrast, his strongly strummed sixteenth pattern using bassy-voiced F and C chords following his declarations in the chorus of Hold You in My Arms help pound the point home effectively.

Ray LaMontagne actually manages to make you feel good while spinning his tales of woe, trouble and love interrupted - something which can only be accomplished by an artist who is in complete command of his craft. No matter how bright or dark the story, LaMontagne's demonstrated competence on his chosen instrument and the genuine, soulful delivery of his lyrics impart a belief on the listener that they are experiencing a worthy, legitimate artist with plenty of good music ahead of him. And that should make any music lover happy, no matter what their current troubles.

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Grace Potter Rocking The Gear circa 2006!